Before giving my analysis, I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer my thoughts and prayers to all the victims in Pennsylvania. This has been one of the saddest weeks of my life, and has caused me to truly question our society as a whole. It certainly puts Michigan Football into perspective, and if you’re reading this, its likely is one of the most important things in your life. When Michigan wins, you’re on the top of the world, and if they lose, turning on ESPN becomes a struggle. At the end of the day, there are so many things more important. Our number one priority should always be protecting our children and keeping them safe. Sadly, that wasn’t the case in Happy Valley, and vast numbers of children have had their lives shaken, some very likely to never recover. Many of their horrors were preventable, and that’s where the true sadness I feel lies. A "brand" or a "job" took precedence over innocent young children, and for that, no punishment will ever be enough. I truly hope some of the recent rumors aren’t true, as this story is bad enough as is. I have a friend who is a Penn State alumnus, and I was lucky enough to travel there for the 2006 UM game. I was able to meet some of the nicest, most welcoming people I’ve ever experienced at a road UM game, and the pain they’re all feeling, is great as well. I talked to him this week, and he is struggling with ever wanting to wear his PSU attire again. His father is also a PSU alumnus, and feels the same way. For every one of the PSU fans who are distraught over the firing of Paterno, I can assure you, there are dozens much more distraught at the pain caused to the children.
Michigan travels to Champaign to battle the Illini, marking the 4th and final road game of the year. Given the fact that both of their losses have come away from the Big House, I’m surely not the only one who wants to put this one in the W column and head home for a couple monster games.
For what its worth, I’m going to go on a limb and say the scoring in this game should be slightly less than last years 67-65 3OT shootout. That said, we sure didn’t see that one ending up a basketball final score.
This game will be won in the trenches. I see the Illinois defense being somewhat similar to the 2008 Michigan defense, in terms of having some good talent, but not really as much "punch you in the mouth". I think Michigan can at least force a "draw" on the line when they have the ball, and score enough to win.
The key is for Michigan to establish the run, especially with the winds in the forecast to be 20-30 mph, with gusts even stronger.
This also plays into Michigan’s favor when the Illini have the ball, as they have had a hard time replacing Detroit Lions RB Mikel Leshoure, and would much rather have a balance between the run and pass game, with all-world wide out A.J. Jenkins. During the 3 game losing streak Illinois has encountered, the opposition has been able to keep their safeties back, and still be able to keep the running game in check. Expect Michigan to stack the box, and force capable QB Nathan Scheelhaase to beat them with his arm, and limit his running ability.
Expect this game to be fairly low scoring, and Michigan to pull it out, 24-21, on a final drive where Michigan has a 1st and Goal in the waning seconds, but has timeouts this time, and is able to run it in for the victory.
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